Typically, the weather is yet to make up its mind about which season we’re currently experiencing. I’ve been pushing on with spring regardless under the guidance of the calendar alone – sometimes eating outside, sometimes on the sofa under a blanket wondering how long it’s been since I’ve seen the sky. That’s April for you.
Quick, easy dinners that can be rustled up on a weeknight after a long day at work were my most requested post last year. This year (now that I have a proper job where I have to actually use my brain) that’s all I have time for anyway, so you can expect plenty of these in the months to come.
Spaghetti with Tuna, Capers and Lemon
Boil 150-200g spaghetti in salted water according to pack instructions. Reserve about 1/4 cup of pasta water just before draining. Put it back in the pan with the splash of pasta water and add the juice of a lemon, a can of tuna, a tbsp capers, a generous knob of butter and a drizzle of olive oil. Keep the heat under it and keep stirring til rich and saucy. Stir through a handful of chopped fresh parsley just before serving.
Tip: if you want extra greens, stir through a big handful of rocket at the same time as the parsley.
Rhubarb and Lentil Curry
I put a call out on Twitter recently for savoury rhubarb recipes and this one from Jenny Chandler blog came highly recommended by Gourmet Goat. I loved it. It was quick to prepare, warming enough to comfort me in the depths of a rain spell but fresh and new enough (thanks to the rhubarb) to be completely appropriate for spring.
Soften onion (1), celery and carrots (2 of each), on a medium heat and add 3 sliced garlic cloves. Stir in 1 tbsp ground cumin, 1 tbsp ground coriander and 1/2 tsp chilli flakes. Add 350g rhubarb cut into chunks 150g puy or green lentils (rinsed). Pour in 600ml veg stock, bring to boil then simmer for 20 mins. Add 1 tbsp soft brown sugar, simmer for 5-10 mins more.
Vegan Mac and Cheese with Rocket
Mac and cheese is more commonly used as an autumn and winter staple, but I’m easing it into spring by taking the portion size down just a little and adding a great big handful of greens to the bowl. This recipe makes enough for 4.
Boil 200-300g macaroni and set aside. Cook 30g butter and 30g flour together until a paste forms. Gradually add about half a carton of soya milk, whisking all the time to avoid lumps. Keep the heat low and cook to thicken, whilst adding generous shakes of smoked paprika, cayenne and garlic powder. Add salt to taste. If you have some, throw in a handful of nutritional yeast. Finally, add an entire block of vegan cheese*, grated. Mix the macaroni into the sauce and (if you want, this isn’t a completely necessary step) bake at 180C Fan/Gas Mark 6 for around 20 minutes. Serve with plenty of greens.
* the vegan cheese I recommend most highly/that is most affordable is ASDA’s cheddar alternative. See here.
Tofu and Spinach Curry
This is the easiest dinner in the world thanks to a vital short cut: jarred curry sauce. If you’ve been reading this blog a while you’ll know it’s not a place for food snobs. If you want to rustle up your own curry sauce for this one, fire away. For me, this is the dinner I can pull out of the bag in 20 minutes with next to no effort after a shit day.
Soften 1 chopped onion then add half a block of pressed tofu, chopped into cubes. Once browned, add half a bag of spinach, tearing with your hands before adding to the pan (quicker than chopping). Pour over a jar of curry sauce (personal fave is Lloyd Grossman tikka masala) and cook until spinach is wilted and sauce is piping hot. Serve with rice.